Kanthar Anubhuthi - Verse 31
By Sri Arunagirinathar
Maya & Karma
Life on earth is not lasting. It comes and goes. It is evanescent. This life is as transitory as a dream. Things quickly vanish, leaving no trace of their existence, as in a dream. Hence, the phenomenal life is called Mayaic. Maya, itself, is perishable, i.e., is not a substantial something. It is said to have no beginning but has an end; it ceases when one attains God. Arunagirinathar, therefore, refers to Maya as "Padu," (perishable). How evanescent, then, should a world conjured up by this Maya be? Yet, it is governed by exact, scientific laws the most inexorable being the law of Karma.
We are responsible for our own suffering
(as well as our own happiness) Not God
We inevitably reap the fruits of our past deeds; we are responsible for our happiness and suffering. There is no use blaming God or someone else for our present condition. If we suffer this misery of life in a sense-world, it is because we took it as real, wanted it, and hugged it, not knowing its illusory nature, and also forgetting God and His greatness.
God does not put one in this Samsara wantonly out of hatred or prejudice. He neither hates nor loves anyone. He is the same to all. But, His divine law works so preciously that we are rewarded by the fruits of our actions. God is the dispenser of justice and He ordains each one to take birth in such circumstances as would be conducive for the working out of one's past Karmas. He, thus, paves the way for one's evolution, as no salvation is possible unless the Karmas are worked out. Are we not to be grateful to God for this kind act of His in providing us the necessary ground in the form of this "transitory world" so that we may work out our Karmas and attain the Eternal Abode? God has created an evanescent world, lest we should be pleased with it even if it be full of pain and suffering. The Gita says that this world is Anityam and Asukham; it is not merely painful, it is non-lasting also. Though painful, if it were still to be eternal, perhaps we might get attached to it and would like to live here itself permanently! If one dreams of having a vast treasure, perhaps he would like to perpetuate the dream and be a rich man even with the concomitant pains and anxieties. Hence, it is that dreams are so construed as to last but for a while; they are Anitya compared to waking. And this Mayaic life is so, compared to the waking of God-Consciousness. Hence, God has created an evanescent world conjured up by His Maya which is not lasting, and this He has done for our own good. Yet, in our ignorance we are accustomed to blame God for our birth and suffering in this world, saying, "O Lord, what a pity you have ordained me to be born in this world and suffer!" But then there comes a time when we realize that not God but we are responsible for this and that there are past evil deeds of ours on account of which the Lord has made us to be born here, which is for our own ultimate good. Then, it is that we begin to realize the greatness, mercy, and compassion of the Lord, when we cannot but feel grateful to Him and praise Him from the core of our being, "Lord, how compassionate art thou! May thou live long!" All this is so touchingly conveyed by Saint Arunagirinathar in this verse.
How to come out of this world of Maya? Seek God
Here is yet another verse in which Arunagirinathar places himself in our condition and prays to the Lord this verse forms a companion to verses 25 and 27. We suffer because of our past deeds. If we resort to Him, through singing His praise and glorification, we cross over His law and get freed from Samsara. The world-show is often compared to the play of hide-and-seek. The granny initiates the play and the children are subject to the laws of the play only so long as they enjoy the play and do not get tired of it. But the moment the child comes back and touches the granny, he is freed at once from the play and its laws. So long as one takes life as real and enjoys it, one is involved in it. What can the Lord do for it? But getting tired with this Mayaic life, realizing its utter essencelessness, if one resorts to the Lord, one's sufferings come to an end. To praise the Lord, to sing His glories, to do Japa, worship, meditation, etc., are the various means of resorting to the Lord to get freed from Samsara. "Due to my past deeds thou has put me into this Samsara. But hereafter I will devote myself wholly to thy glorification only, O Peacock-rider. Live thou long!"
This verse is also considered as "Ninda-stuti" (praise through apparent censure). As though dejected with the Lord for mercilessly throwing him in this Mayaic life, Arunagirinathar says, "O Lord, though I have taken refuge in thee and have no other support, yet thou hast ordained me to revel in this dirty life. Thou hast meted out this unfair treatment to one who has taken refuge in Thee. Anyhow, thou be long-lived, though I may suffer in Samsara! Though it may appear to be a Ninda (censure of the Lord), it is real love for God expressed by great devotees who feel so much intimacy with Him that they take this liberty of apparently censuring Him. This kind of Ninda-stuti songs belong to a different order of devotees who feel their oneness with the Lord.
Instruction for the devout Sadhaka
[Though immediately on return to normal world-consciousness, the seeker could not reconcile himself between that glimpse of cosmic-consciousness and this world-experience (verse 29), things have become clear to him now. He realizes the reason now, that there is still some balance of Prarabdha Karma to be worked out, on account of which he has been pushed down. That glimpse coupled with this understanding has reconciled things and an inner joy, therefore, comes to him which cannot be disturbed by the outer happenings, which are due to his Prarabdha Karmas, and so he feels: "I do not worry; let the body undergo the Prarabdha. I shall be blissful in (meditating on and) singing the glories of the Lord."
"O Lord! Thou art Satchitananda, and that is enough for me; my little, passing world-experience is nothing." This idea is seen pulsating through the verse. Such moods can be had and maintained only in somewhat advanced stages. This is a peculiar state in which the seeker undergoes the bodily sufferings brought on him by his Karmas, but remains blissful within by maintaining the meditative consciousness by inner attunement with God through silent glorification.]
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.